AFGHAN REFUGEE UPDATES

February 2024

This is a second year update of life in Little Rock for the Sadiqi family.

Our church and TV ministry families have contributed over $40,000 to the Afghan family we agreed to support. The team thought you would like to know where your money is being spent and why we so appreciate your continued support of this young family.

The largest chunk of money went to purchase a family car. They can now get to work, school, doctor appointments and extracurricular activities in their own car. This provides them with a growing sense of self-reliance. It is also a HUGE help to the PHUMC team members who previously had to take children to school each day, worry about Mohammad walking to work in the snow and rearranging our personal lives to get family to the doctor. We are still involved in the health management activities but to a lesser degree.

Besides the occasional special need for medicine, clothing, donated furniture cleaning, the rest of our generous gifts are being used for education. The oldest son continues to receive twice weekly individual tutoring from a certified LRSD teacher. Her intervention is making a world of difference in his understanding of vocabulary and grammar. This is a service we will continue to offer until he is nearer grade level in reading.

The father started UALR’s Intensive Language Program in January. He has committed to this educational step in future planning for acquiring a more skilled labor job with better than minimum wage to support his family of 6. Kuddos to someone willing to attend school 5 mornings a week for 4 hours, then go to work for another 9 hours. We express our great appreciation to Catholic Charities for covering the cost of his schooling. We know in the future they will not have this money to share, and our Afghan fund will support this effort.

So, we thank all who have given in the past, those who continue to donate regularly, and all of you who have yet to send this family your support through a monetary donation to the Afghan Support Fund.

Please help us continue to support this beautiful family through your prayers, volunteering or by donating to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/give or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Carol Isom at carolisom@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved

December 2023

Baptist Hospital hired Mohammad in the environmental services department shortly after our Afghan family moved to Little Rock. Though Mohammad could speak no English, it did not prevent him from working there. The staff in his department have been so kind and accepting of Mohammed and they have grown to love him. In fact, this picture shows Mohammad receiving the employee of the month award recently. The only thing holding Mohammad back from advancement is his lack of solid English communication.

Starting in January, Muhammad will be taking ESL courses at UALR every morning five days a week and working a later shift at Baptist. We are so proud of Mohammed’s strong work ethic and his accomplishments so far. All of our family has a strong desire to learn. Please pray for Mohammad and his family as they adjust to this new challenge and schedule.

Please help us continue to support this beautiful family through your prayers, volunteering or by donating to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/give or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Carol Isom at carolisom@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

September 2023

Aruzu just had her first birthday! Aruzu means Hope in the Dari language. She is truly a symbol of hope for our team of volunteers, but even more so for her family. Though they have made great progress, their life is still filled with uncertainty. Dedicated volunteers still work diligently to help bring more fluency in the English language for each family member through ESL (English as a second language) tutoring. Our volunteers still give willingly and tirelessly because we believe in this family so strongly.

Please help us continue to support this beautiful family through your prayers, volunteering or by donating to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/give or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

July 2023

The Sadiqi boys have had a full summer of fun with some good learning thrown in. Amir went to Dino camp where he learned some craft skills creating various forms of dinosaurs. Sajad went to Zoo Camp where he learned about  how different animals move. They all had swimming lessons and made great progress in the water. Hussain, going into 5th grade this year, has been receiving excellent tutoring all summer. This will prepare him for the challenges of this more advanced grade.  There is a flurry of activity preparing for a new school year in a new school.

If you would like to help with back to school expenses donate to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/give or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

June 2023

After having a really good school year, our boys are set to have a great summer. The pictures included show them learning how to swim and they all love the water. The two older boys continued their English development during the month of June at LRSD sponsored Camp Can Do. They will also experience Zoo Camp and art camp and Amir,  the youngest, will attend  Safety Town. The boys are all becoming more comfortable with their new lives here in Little Rock.  And as you can see, our baby, Aruzu, is growing up way too quickly! She loves her big brothers and is a true delight

As always, please pray for this family and these diligent, loving members of the PH Afghan team. Donate to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/give or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

May 2023

As this school year draws to an end, there is much to look back upon and many accomplishments to rejoice over. Hussain (9) and Sajad (7) have had a good year at McDermott Elementary School. Both have made great progress in the time they have been here. We are very proud of both boys for their resiliency and undaunted spirits.

Amir (5) has had a wonderful year at Fair Park Elementary School. He has adapted well there.Tish DePriest had the foresight to get Amir enrolled at this wonderful school and a team of volunteers made sure that he was picked up every morning and afternoon of the school week. Deepest gratitude to: Tish and Jim DePriest, Janet Stewart, Brenda Mize, Karen Barnwell, Nancy McCulley, Abbey Maynard, Bonnie Lawrence, Kim McDonough, Carol and Gary Isom. Substitute drivers were Connie Staley, Terry Davis and Mary Cavin.

Tish and Mary Cavin have fun activities planned for the boys this summer. Camp Can Do will help them improve their language skills in a fun setting. Swim lessons, ZigZag and Zoo Camps are also anticipated. There will still be a need for volunteer drivers this summer. It is a joy to watch this family flourish and it truly would not be possible without the selfless giving of our Afghan team.

As always, please pray for this family and these diligent, loving members of the PH Afghan team. Donate to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/give or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

March 2023

It definitely takes a village of generous people to help our Afghan family get settled adequately into their lives in the United States.  Our team, that works so hard giving of their time and energy, is very special indeed.  In this report, I would like to recognize the members of the Tutor/ ESL Development team.  Each week for more than a year, concerted efforts have been made to help this family learn to communicate in English.  Since they have never been in a classroom even in their own language of Dari, these efforts have been a challenge.  All of our team members deserve our gratitude, but for this article, Meredith Kemper, Tish DePriest, Jennifer Powers, Janet Stewart, Nechi Fullerton, and Bonnie Lawrence deserve our special recognition. The two older boys are being given after school ESL(English as a Second Language) training at Williams Elementary, thanks to Linda Davis, a teacher at that school. English speaking is happening more quickly for the boys because of their exposure at school.  The tutors are working hard with the adults.  Progress is slow and steady. If you see any member of this tutoring team, please give them a shout out!

As always, please pray for this family and these diligent, loving members of the PH Afghan team. Donate to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/give or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

February 2023

The first year of the PHUMC Afghan Refugee ministry was filled with many challenges, great generosity and much love. Moving into the first month of our second year has already presented challenges but also profound accomplishment. 

The father of our family passed the written part of his driver’s test and will soon take the driving test. This has proven to be a difficult exercise for our father. Special thanks are due to Dr. David Reding for providing hours of driving instruction. When the driving test is passed, a suitable vehicle for this family of six will need to be provided.  If anyone is aware of an opportunity to purchase an appropriate vehicle, please contact us.

Medical and Dental support was provided for all  Afghan Refugee families for one year. Because that support has expired, additional costs for care of the family are expected. The six year old son required extensive dental procedures requiring treatment under anesthesia at AR Children’s Hospital. This service was covered by ARKids medical coverage. The whole event was most unsettling to the entire family and was a real language translation challenge. Special thanks to Karen Barnwell for transporting and overseeing the hospital experience.

The two older boys are learning to speak English very well and are even helping with some translation with the parents.  Linda Davis and her team at Williams Magnet are providing additional after school ESL (English as Second Language) training two afternoons per week.

Transportation is an ongoing necessity. The younger son is transported to and from Pre School classes five days a week by wonderful volunteers. This important development opportunity would not be possible were it not for these volunteers and Tish DePriest  who had the forethought to get him registered at this excellent and sought after school. Now transportation to and from ESL classes two days a week is needed. There are other special activities that also require transportation. Reverend Abbey Maynard has graciously agreed to head up the Transportation team.

There are many people in our church and community that warrant our appreciation for their support of this family.  The Education and Tutor/ESL teams are particularly deserving of praise.  Tish DePriest, Nechi Fullerton, Brenda Mize, Meredith Kemper, Janet Stewart, Jennifer Powers and Bonnie Lawrence all deserve our gratitude.

As always, please pray for this family and these diligent, loving members of the PH Afghan team. Donate to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/give or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

January 2023

Happy New Year from your Afghan family support team. The anniversary of the our Afghan family arrival is the perfect time to share a few highlights of our year with them. Sophia Said of The Interfaith Center reached out to Dr. Robbins to see if our church could help with one of the Afghan families who fled Afghanistan and were then on a military base in New Jersey. A committee was formed, led by Bev Villines, to discuss how the church could help. A committee of three has become a diverse committee of 25 volunteers and some of those are not members of PHUMC.

In the 12 months the family has been here, they have had dental and health evaluations, enrolled three boys in LRSD, and brought a new daughter into the family. Our team has provided transportation, house cleaning and repair, clothing, food, a baby shower, and a new house shower. The father is being taught driving as well as holding a fulltime job and receiving English tutoring 3-4 times a week. The mother is getting acquainted with American schools, household management, English tutoring 3 times a week and raising a new daughter. She is also involved in a Catholic Charities initiative that will give her social time with other Afghan women and entrepreneurial opportunities. The 3 boys are learning about American ways, English, and being treated to basketball lessons from some of our younger PH members. And they experienced their first Christmas season with holiday cookie making, introduction to Chutes and Ladders, a trip to the Museum of Discovery and a tree and presents sprinkled into their winter holiday.

Thank you to all members of our congregation who have given support, household items and money to support this wonderful family. And thank you to Second Baptist Downtown for agreeing to be the family’s church sponsor and provide the family with a wonderful house and other donations. We expect to be a primary support system for them for the next year and then hope they will have mastered English well enough to not need our constant help, though we will always be part of their lives and they are ours.

As always, please pray for this family and these diligent, loving members of the PH Afghan team. Donate to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/give or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

Week of November 21

As we look back on Thanksgiving 2022, The PHUMC Afghan Support Team wishes to express thanks.
First, and foremost, we are so grateful that ours and 11 other Afghan families have escaped injury, imprisonment and/or death to enjoy freedom in Little Rock, AR. This is a miracle we had no part in yet daily rejoice in helping them in this new chapter of their lives. We are thankful for these 6 people adjusting to a new climate, language, education system and culture with such grace and joy.

We rejoice in their ongoing acquisition of the English language, appreciation for basketball, first field trips, enjoyment of the zoo and all the other things that are helping them to feel at home in Arkansas.
And we celebrate the participation of the PHUMC congregation in this endeavor to help them make Little Rock their home. Thanks for your money, prayers, constancy, and support as this team of 26 surrounds this family with our love and care. There will be several more years before they are able to be just another Arkansas family and we need your continued encouragement to provide the Sadiqis with the support they will need. May they and we continue to exult the One who makes all this possible.

As always, please pray for this family and these diligent, loving members of the PH Afghan team. Donate to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/giveonline or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

Week of October 24

This week we’d like to thank two church volunteers for their work with our Afghan family.  The first is Crata Castleberry who is assisting our family with the paperwork and appointments required for the WIC program. The WIC program provides extra nutritional support for mothers and young children. Crata updated the paperwork for our family required with the recent birth of their daughter. With high food costs, programs like this are important to meeting the nutritional requirements to allow the family to flourish.

The second volunteer we’d like to recognize is Heather Schmiegelow who has arranged two play dates between the three boys in the family along with several 8th grade boys from the Episcopal Collegiate School. This has allowed these 8th grade boys to experience people from a different culture. For the three Afghan children this has served to provide pure rambunctious play and has introduced them to the sports of basketball and “American” football. The children have been able to practice their English but the most significant value was to add an activity that was pure fun and exercise.  Watching this play activity was also a joy to watch and provided great entertainment to several from our volunteer team.

As always, please pray for this family and these diligent, loving members of the PH Afghan team. Donate to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/giveonline or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

Week of October 17

Parents understand the need to check on your children’s progress in school and to see that all homework is completed. The parents of our family are no different but they need help with translation of notes to parents and need assistance with understanding progress reports. Our PHUMC volunteers are in the home frequently over the week to look at backpacks and to see where responses are needed. These same volunteers are also working with the two older boys on their English and reading skills. Over the next couple of weeks our volunteers will go with the parents for parent and teacher progress meetings for their three sons. We’ll be anxious to learn more about their studies, their social interactions and on how we can continue to support their growth. All of the children show a love of learning which makes our work with them a joy.

As always, please pray for this family and these diligent, loving members of the PH Afghan team. Donate to the Afghan Resettlement Fund at phumc.com/giveonline or send a check to the church with the Refugee Resettlement Fund in the memo line. Contact Tish DePriest at tishdphafghans@gmail.com with any questions or if you’d like to get involved.

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